When asked by the press on Friday if his club would sign a defender from Cameroon, Igor Gamula, the manager of Russian Premier League side Rostov, said the club had "enough dark-skinned players, we've got six of the things." Upon hearing this deeply offensive and profoundly stupid remark, five of Rostov's African players threatened to go on strike and as a result, Gamula has now apologized.
From the AP:
According to soccer agent Paul Mitchell, five African players on the team threatened to sit out Monday's training. Mitchell is the agent of Rostov defender Siyanda Xulu, a South Africa international.
''(They are) not prepared to train under the current coach,'' Mitchell told The Associated Press.
However, Gamula told Russian agency Tass that he apologized to the team on Monday and that all the players had taken part in training.
The 54-year-old Ukrainian manager added: "I was deeply worried and didn't sleep for two days. I hadn't wanted to insult or upset anyone." Yet he somehow didn't realize that not referring to human beings as "things" would've been a good way to avoid that.
Gamula really thought he was being funny on Friday, though. In reference to five of his Russian players who were sick, he said, "I'm already worrying it's ebola" and then clarified that was "a joke, obviously."
Mitchell, meanwhile, is pushing for Gamula to be sacked for his remarks, citing Rostov's position as a host city for the 2018 World Cup and his belief that keeping Gamula would be "very damaging to them as a city." Rostov FC are owned by the city government, making that link very tangible.
The prominence of racism in Russian football is continuously being exposed. In September, defender Chris Samba was charged for responding to racist chants in Moscow with an "unpleasant gesture" and days later Zenit St. Petersburg's Brazilian striker Hulk was the target of monkey chants. In 2012, a Zenit fan group demanded that black and gay footballers be excluded from the club with a statement that began with the words, "We're not racists but..." It was not a joke.
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